Esteemed two Michelin starred, Hélène Darroze at The Connaught has re-opened its doors after a comprehensive refurbishment. Chef Hélène has re-imagined the dining room, kitchen and menu, with a stunning new Chef’s Table, show kitchen and dedicated Armagnac Room. “Passionately obsessive about the quality and origins of her ingredients, Hélène lives by the philosophy that the star of any dish is not created by the chef, but by the finest produce, it takes to make it.”
With the new menu, each dining experience will commence with a seasonal consommé to softly cleanse the palate. Curious guests can select ingredients from specific regions, for example, Pigeon – Denbighshire Wales, or Cep – Scotland, even where possible, naming the exact boats that land the fish such as Turbot – The Ajax, Cornwall. Regular changes will also be made to the menu to react to changes in the British weather and micro-seasons, allowing for further experimentation and versatility.
Hélène explains, “Every dish I have ever created is part of who I am – not just of my work and travels, but also of my family and teams, past and present and of the incredible artisanal suppliers I have come to know and respect. Now with just over ten remarkable years in London, I have the opportunity to focus even more on the outstanding quality from some of Britain’s greatest producers and suppliers. Over the years they have become a growing part of the menus at The Connaught and perfectly complement my long-standing relationships with the finest producers from SW France. This refurbishment has afforded me a perfect platform to showcase them now at their very best.”
Elegance and style go hand in hand with The Connaught so when it came to selecting the dining pieces, independent ceramicist Ema Pradere was commissioned to supply the hand-thrown consommé bowls to start each meal whilst iconic fashion house Hermès was chosen for their Bleu D’Ailleurs tea and coffee service to finish. Hélène aimed to work with both historic design houses as well as smaller artisans during this project.
Paris-based, interior architect Pierre Yovanovitch took on the responsibility of this re-design and chose deep hues and rich textiles for the main dining room, whilst lightening the dark oak-panelled walls creating a more contemporary space without compromising the history of the space. Complementing the unique oak tables with red, ceramic lacquered, metal bases, we see a soft palette of pinks, tans and greens on the chairs, upholstered in a mix of velvet and leather.
The two original paintings by Damien Hirst, commissioned by The Connaught, are back and sit on opposite sides of the restaurant as guests enter. A centrepiece in the Dining room is an elegant bespoke chandelier made of hand-blown glass and finished with blue lacquered, wrought-iron.
The wine cellar features some of the finest bottles in the world, with an impressive 20,000 bottles. Restaurant Manager, Mirko Benzo was previously the Head Sommelier and he began this journey of creating an incredibly special wine list, not under the responsibility of Director of Wine, Daniel Manetti. The restaurant prides itself on building and maintaining special relationships with wine producers around the world and a highlight is Armagnac – a distinctive style of French brandy and the oldest French eau-de-vie dating back to 1310, which is a signature feature of the restaurant. Darroze Armagnacs’ cellars hold over 250 different Armagnacs from 30 estates covering 50 vintages.
Downstairs features a spacious show kitchen with the new Chef’s Table, where pale oak panelled walls feature bespoke Matteo Gonet lamps and a customised pink, marble tabletop, set on a terrazzo dias with luxurious armchairs that seat up to ten special guests. Looking up, diners can enjoy a cobalt blue fresco commissioned by the artist, Rochegaussen. Here, chefs will personally present dishes, allowing guests to interact, discuss ingredients and enjoy a special menu, based on sharing.
Written by Ian Cole for Client Voyage